Job growth vital to America’s economic recovery

By U.S. Sen.Olympia Snowe | Dec 17, 2009

Washington, D.C. — As was abundantly clear over the past year, our nation was on the brink of a financial collapse that could have jeopardized the future of the world economy as we know it and threaten the very foundations of our nation’s economy.

Each and every American has certainly experienced the effects of these unprecedented struggles in one form or another, but all too often that is through layoffs.

Even as the economy is now slowly starting to emerge from the longest and deepest recession since World War II – with growth at a modest 2.8 percent in the third quarter and the national jobless rate dipping slightly to 10 percent in November – many have yet to see any relief at all.

Maine alone has lost 19,700 jobs over the last year and our state’s unemployment rate surged to 8.2 percent in October from 5.7 percent a year ago.

Last Tuesday, President Obama spoke to the Brookings Institution about job creation and economic growth, rightly noting the challenges of our economy are of paramount consequence.

If we are serious about advancing an agenda that will restore confidence in the job market and mitigate the financial fears of millions of hard-working Americans, then Congress must find the political will to push past the partisan politics that have time and again impeded constructive debate and embrace bipartisan initiatives that will provide effective solutions.

And the stakes couldn’t be higher as individuals and families across our nation are reeling from the profound burden that unemployment and under-employment places upon them.

So it goes without saying that we must promptly direct essential resources to those people and businesses facing an uncertain future.

In that vein, I was greatly pleased when the President called for the extension of small business expensing, which I proposed to make permanent in legislation I recently introduced.

As Ranking Member of the Small Business Committee, I also appreciate the President’s plan to reduce fees for Small Business Administration borrowers. Fee reduction is a proven driver of SBA loan volume, and when funds for fee reduction were coupled with increased guarantees, as they were in the Economic Recovery Act, this combination was widely credited with creating a strong surge in SBA lending.

I introduced legislation calling for targeted fee reductions in the 110th Congress – and I will continue to champion this necessary initiative which will have a transformational effect on our economy.

In fact, I introduced legislation Thursday with my colleague from Louisiana and Chair of the Small Business Committee, Sen. Mary Landrieu, that extends fee reduction in the Recovery Act from Sept. 30, 2010 to the end of the 2010.

And by extending expiring safety-net programs, including unemployment benefits and COBRA, Congress can advance vital initiatives that will help pave the way for swift job creation and better assist those displaced by this economic crisis.

While I support the continuation of pro-growth policies, given that the federal deficit for Fiscal Year 2009 was a breathtaking $1.4 trillion and the administration is projecting deficits of $9.1 trillion over the next 10 years, Congress must do more to pair the resources targeted to job creation with reductions in other areas.

Many signs indicate the economy may be on the mend, but make no mistake that action must be taken to promote job growth – so those who have been upended through this historic downturn may once again receive paychecks and we can help ensure a stable and prosperous future for all Americans through fiscally responsible means.

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